Leaders of teachers’ trade unions from India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka had been invited to visit Kathmandu from July 2-4, 2011 for a three-day workshop to further their leadership skills and to learn about best practices of other countries.
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Nepal (FES Nepal) and Education International (EI) collaborated in the framework of the Trade Union Rights Network South Asia to support teachers’ trade unions of SAARC countries on the enforcement of their rights in order to promote gender equality and social justice. Some 35 trade union representatives, with 10 male members, participated in the workshop. The workshop aimed at gaining essential insights for a strong performance in collective bargaining, claiming further rights and enabling leaders to take an active part in the national and international gender-debate. Furthermore, the workshop aimed to prepare an internal guideline on the implementation of gender equality within the trade union itself. The workshop trainers Shashi Bala Singh and Rey Dichoso Dolot were programme coordinators with profound knowlegde about UN instruments, complaint procedures and ILO supervisory mechanisms with focus on ILO core conventions, UN Commission on Status of Women and on CEDAW. The knowledge about rights and methodology leads to the increase of the leader’s self-confidence. The Asia-Pacific Sub-Region of EI had prepared the workshop concept including lecture presentations, group work and plenary sessions, enriched by presentations on MDGs, CEDAW and Migration & Human Rights held by Nepali Experts-Keshav Bhattarai, Babita Basnet and Saktida Singh. This mixture created a lively and result-oriented atmosphere.
The rights of trade unions in South Asia—human rights—are frequently violated by the governments, employers and armed groups. Profound knowledge was provided on ILO Core Conventions as well as on C183 Maternity Protection Benefits. One group work session outlined the status of ratification and legislations of each country with the result that core conventions mostly had been ratified, however, the implementation hit a snag. The workshop provided the know-how on forcing the implementation of ratified conventions. First of all, trade unionists should prefer social dialogue on equal level with the government. If the government refuses to recognize the trade unions’ demands, action should be raised to increase the public pressure on the government (name & shame). If the government still shows resistance, trade unionists will have to take up legal steps in order to force the government to implement the conventions it once had ratified.